Bremen for architecture enthusiasts
A house in Old Bremen or a modern port building – it's always worth having a look
For a long time, the local people had a somewhat detached relationship with the river Weser. It brought them work and prosperity but the connection went no deeper than that. These days, however, the reverse is true. And now even architecture is turning towards the water. Major urban redevelopment ventures near the river and port and a number of ambitious one-off projects dominate the cityscape and reflect the changing face of Bremen.
Speicher XI is a converted brick-built warehouse, 400 metres in length, that serves as a centre for art, culture and the service sector. It is at the heart of Überseestadt, the regenerated dockland district in the heart of Bremen and a major European development project. Homes and businesses by the water, new technologies and traditional port industries exist side by side creating an urban community for the 21st century. Converted warehouses, modern offices and apartments and the rust-red walls of the quay are all part of this changing backdrop.
Across from the city centre is the Stadtwerder peninsula, where numerous contemporary apartments, lofts and town houses are being built around a historical water tower known as the umgedrehte Kommode (upside-down dresser). A little further downriver on the Schlachte Embankment, the new buildings belonging to the youth hostel, Hotel Überfluss and Radio Bremen stand in fascinating contrast to the surrounding Kontorhäuser and post-war architecture.
If you turn your back on the water, you'll be able to seek out two further architectural highlights in these districts of the city: the first is Bremer Haus, a historical terrace which has undergone seemingly endless modifications down the years. The second is Bremen's bunkers with their painted exteriors, some of which have been spectacularly converted into residential or cultural spaces.
Bremen has a rich architectural heritage. You don't have to look far to discover some eye-catching examples from the 20th century: the Aalto-Hochhaus, a high-rise apartment block in Neue Vahr, and the regional government building are among the most striking post-war buildings. The impressive residences at numbers 108-126 Bismarckstrasse date back to the 1930s and are built in the Neues Bauen style.
Near the market square, a golden dragon slayer keeps a watchful eye over the buildings on Böttcherstrasse. Ludwig Roselius, the founder of the Café HAG company, created an ensemble of brick-built Expressionist buildings here at the beginning of the 20th century.
The town hall on the market square gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2004. The main facade, remodelled in the early 17th century by Bremen master architect Lüder von Bentheim, is a remarkable example of Weser Renaissance architecture. This style is also reflected in the Schütting guildhall opposite and the nearby Stadtwaage arts centre.
But there is still so much more to discover. Our audio guide tour, the 'Architecture in Bremen' brochure and detailed information panels on buildings of interest are the best ways to get your bearings.